Wayne F. Miller was an American photographer known for his series of photographs The Way of Life of the Northern Negro. Active as a photographer from 1942 until 1975, he was a contributor to Magnum Photos beginning in 1958.
Miller was born in Chicago, Illinois., the son of a doctor and a nurse, who gave him a camera as a high school graduation present. He went on to study banking at the University of Illinois at Urbana, while also working on the side as a photographer. From 1941 to 1942 he studied at the Art Center School of Los Angeles. He then served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy where he was assigned to Edward Steichen’s World War II U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit. He was among the first photographers to document the destruction at Hiroshima.
After the war he resettled in Chicago. He won two consecutive Guggenheim fellowships in 1946-1948, with which he worked on The Way of Life of the Northern Negro. These images were published in his book Chicago’s South Side, 1946-1948. This project documented the wartime migration of African Americans northward, specifically looking at the black community on the south side of Chicago, covering all the emotions in daily life. The people depicted are mostly ordinary people, but some celebrities appear, such as Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Paul Robeson.
Miller taught at the Institute of Design in Chicago before moving to Orinda, California working for Life in 1953. He and his wife Joan also worked with Edward Steichen as an associate curator for The Family of Man exhibition and accompanying book at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. He was a contract photographer for Life and served as president of Magnum Photos from 1962-1966. Miller was a longtime member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers and was named chairman in 1954. In 1970 he joined the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as executive director of the Public Broadcasting Environmental Center, and after his retirement from photography in 1975, worked to protect California’s forests.